Kilink in Istanbul (1967)

Kilink in Istanbul (1967)
aka Kilink Istanbul’da
Article 5897 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-5-2020
Directed by Yilmaz Atadeniz
Featuring Irfan Atasoy, Pervin Par, Muzaffer Tema
Country: Turkey
What it is: supervillain/superhero antics

When his father is killed by the notorious villain Kilink, a man is visited by a mystical being and given superhuman powers he can use to take vengeance.

I don’t mind the opening titles sequence being abrupt and incoherent; they are just the opening titles. But when the opening scenes of the movie itself are abrupt and incoherent, either your copy of the movie is not in the best of shape or editing is still a somewhat primitive art in the region from which the movie harkens. Still, this movie is a sight to behold; the story borrows from Italian anti-hero/supervillain movies (Kilink is assuredly not the hero) crossed with American superhero culture; our hero can gain superpowers in the same way Captain Marvel does, and his outfit looks like a cross between the ones of Superman and Batman. But in style, the movie feels like a cross between silent movies, feature versions of serials, and Mexican wrestling movies. Our superhero is called Superhero, but that may be a choice on the part of those who did the subtitles; I hear a more direct translation is “Superman”. But all in all it’s pretty much a series of fight scenes, kidnappings, tortures, superhero scenes, all feeling like it was cut to ribbons in the editing room. And if the ending seems strange for this sort of thing, it’s best to remember that the title is KILINK IN ISTANBUL and not SUPERHERO IN ISTANBUL; that should clue you in on who the main character is. It’s a mess, but in its own way, delightful.


Cruel Ghost Legend (1968)

Cruel Ghost Legend (1968)
aka Kaidan zankoku monogatari
Article 5896 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-3-2020
Directed by Kazuo Hase
Featuring Masumi Harukawa, Nobue Kaneko, Saeda Kawaguchi
Country: Japan
What it is: Bloody curse story

When a down-on-his-luck samurai kills a blind man for his money, a curse is set upon him and his family.

Despite a title which promises a ghost, that isn’t quite what we get here; at least I don’t recall the blind man’s ghost taking any active role in the proceedings. However, the curse is very much real, as each of the members of the family suffers for the crime committed in the opening reels. It is, however, one of those movies that unfolds in a very confusing manner, and until the final reel it feels more like an exercise in exploitation than a horror movie per se; there is a lot of sex, a lot of disgusting behavior, and a lot of grotesque blood-letting. It’s also not very much fun; I don’t think there’s a single likable character in the whole movie. The ending does clarify a number of plot points, but I’m glad I saw the 88 minute version rather than the one that ran two hours; I suspect that one has an extra half-hour of confusion. All in all, I think the good points of this one slightly outweigh the bad, but it is one of those movies that I don’t feel motivated to give a second try.

Ghost-Cat of the Cursed Swamp (1968)

Ghost-Cat of the Cursed Swamp (1968)
aka Kaibyo nori no numa
Article 5895 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-2-2020
Directed by Yoshihiro Ishikawa
Featuring Ryohei Uchida, Kotaro Satomi, Kyoko Mikage
Country: Japan
What it is: Ghost-cat movie

A pair of lovers find themselves in peril when the lord of the area takes a fancy to a woman. They run away to the cursed swamp…

This is perhaps the best ghost-cat movie I’ve seen to date, and there may be several reasons. One is this is one of the few that I’ve seen that actually have English subtitles, so I don’t have to guess what’s going on in the elaborate set-up that takes place before the scary stuff finally springs into action. A second reason is that this is the latest chronologically I’ve seen; those made during the fifties had this churned-out feel that this one avoids. But perhaps the biggest reason is that it has a nice, moody visual style, and it feels like a real effort was made to make this one stand out. This is a good thing, because the story itself is really pretty par for the course; it follows the basic template that I’ve found in place for almost all the ghost-cat movies I’ve seen. The one thing that is missing is the bizarre gymnastic theme; in most of the other movies, we have a scene in which the ghost-cat controls another character and makes them do gymnastic stunts; there’s no equivalent scene here. But for those looking for a solid and effective example of the genre, this is a good choice.

Jumpin’ Jupiter (1955)

Jumpin’ Jupiter (1955)
Article 5894 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-30-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: Looney Tune

While camping out in the desert, Porky and Sylvester are shanghaied by a flying saucer from Jupiter.

Here’s another of that series of cartoons Chuck Jones made where Sylvester played a non-speaking but easily terrified cat who was a pet to the unflappable Porky Pig, who doesn’t understand Sylvester’s warnings in the least. In the earlier cartoon they were under attack by a group of homicidal mice; in here, the threat is one of those green birds that occasionally worked for Marvin the Martian. Though it’s fun to see the science fiction touches, this one is rather disappointing, and the reason for that is that threat this time isn’t really a threat; the bird is more curious than threatening and is easily confused. Without the threat being real, the premise loses its steam, and the cartoon has the air of just going through the motions. The best moment has Porky mistaking the bird for a Navajo Indian.

Ju jin yuki otoka (1955)

Ju jin yuki otoko (1955)
aka Half Human
Article 5893 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-30-2929
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Akira Takarada, Akemi Negishi, Momoko Kochi
Country: Japan
What it is: Yeti movie

The destruction of an expedition causes a search atop Mount Fuji for a yeti.

Those who have followed this series for a long time will know I’ve already covered the American version of this movie, HALF HUMAN. However, that version of the movie is different enough from the original that IMDB lists the two films as separate entities, hence my review of both. Being familiar with the American version helped with understanding this one, despite the fact that my copy of this one is in Japanese without English subtitles. It’s a tough picture to find; because of a politically incorrect portrayal of a Japanese ethnic subgroup in the movie, it is rarely revived or discussed. Oddly enough, most of the politically incorrect footage was in the thirty minutes not included in the American version. The Japanese version feels more organic, and it explains some obscurities to be found in the American version. Despite a strong beginning, the movie gets rather dull in its midsection until the Yeti physically manifests itself. I rather like this version; it treats the Yeti as a wronged character rather than just a monster.

Journey to the Moon (1959)

Journey to the Moon (1959)
aka Rehla ilal kamar
Article 5892 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-29-2020
Directed by Hamada Abdel Wahab
Featuring Rushdi Abazah, Souad Tharwat, Edmond Tulma
Country: Egypt
What it is: Science fiction comedy

A rocket is accidentally launched to the moon when an idiot falls on the controls. Hilarity ensues.

This marks the first movie I’ve covered for this series that comes from Egypt, and though it’s always an adventure to embark on a journey through a new nation’s cinema, it’s somewhat problematic when my initial encounter is with a comedy. If it’s not funny, who do I blame? Is it those in charge of the translation? Humor that doesn’t translate from one culture to another? Or could it be that it’s just not funny? That it’s a comedy is obvious, and that Ismail Yassin is the primary comic personality here is apparent. But I find myself not laughing. The translation may be part of the problem; the subtitles are slapdash (the word is “shoot”, not “shout”) to the point that they may actually impede projecting a sense of humor. But on a certain level beyond that, I just find Yassin painful; his main shtick seems to be that he does something stupid and then whines about it. It’s no surprise everyone describes him as an idiot.

As for the movie itself, it seems largely inspired by ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS, though not slavishly; certain elements of the movie, though not exactly original, aren’t borrowed from its model, such as the existence of a robot and a jarring anti-nuclear message involving a number of malformed men; the latter is somewhat effective but out of place will all the clowning. The special effects are inconsistent, but better than I would have expected. But for the most part, this falls flat. However, I did have one laugh when one of the characters says something like “Come out and see the damn thing we landed on”.

Jasper and the Haunted House (1942)

Jasper and the Haunted House (1942)
Article 5891 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-24-2020
Directed by George Pal
Featuring the voices of Alvin Childress and Glenn Leedy
Country: USA
What it is: Politically incorrect puppet animation

Jasper is tricked into delivering a gooseberry pie to a haunted house by Professor Scarecrow, who wants the pie for himself. However, there’s a resident haunt in the haunted house who’s willing to claim the pie as his own…

I covered the Jasper series as a single review many years ago, but I decided shortly after that that I wouldn’t review whole series anymore. I’m pretty sure I mentioned at the time that prior to his fame as a producer of sci-fi extravaganzas, George Pal directed a selection of puppet animation shorts, some of which featured a stereotypical black boy named Jasper. This is one of those. It’s an amusing and well-animated short, though not as wild as a fully animated cartoon would be. However, the stereotypes do make the short rather questionable for modern audiences.

Jack the Giant Killer (1925)

Jack the Giant Killer (1925)
Article 5890 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-23-2020
Directed by Herbert M. Dawley
No cast
Country: USA
What it is: Silhouette fairy tale

Jack must battle a giant to save the countryside.

Herbert M. Dawley is the animator that gave us such dinosaur shorts as THE GHOST OF SLUMBER MOUNTAIN and ALONG THE MOONBEAM TRAIL. He also made a series of silhouette-style animated shorts, many of which are still extant. He’s no Lotte Reiniger, but nor is he a slouch; his animation has energy and wit, and this little short is enjoyable. It’s also shorter than expected; IMDB times it at 6 minutes, but my print only runs three. Granted, the story is quite rushed, as you might expect, but it’s effective nonetheless.

Jack Frost (1979)

Jack Frost (1979)
Article 5889 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-23-2020
Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
Featuring the voices of Buddy Hackett, Robert Morse, Paul Frees
Country: USA
What it is: Holiday special, Rankin-Bass style

Jack Frost falls in love with a beautiful girl, and asks to be made human so he can woo her. However, he has to defeat a local tyrant, Kubla Krause.

Though I’ve covered a few of their feature films, Rankin-Bass is mostly famous for their holiday TV specials; in particular, two of their Christmas offerings have become perennial favorites. Though this one could have been lumped in with them, it’s more obscure; in fact, if it’s geared to any holiday, it would be Groundhogs Day, which, in terms of cultural holiday heft, can’t compare with Christmas. It’s entertaining enough; it’s pretty much modeled after their other holiday specials, only the characters aren’t quite as memorable; the hero isn’t quite as engaging, the villain isn’t quite as fun, and the music doesn’t quite stick in the memory. Still, it does have a few inventive touches. Its relative obscurity is probably due to the fact that it doesn’t quite attach itself as memorably to its holiday as the other specials did.

It’s All in the Stars (1945)

It’s All in the Stars (1945)
Article 5888 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-21-2020
Directed by Connie Rasinski
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Gandy Goose/Sourpuss dream cartoon

Gandy Goose and Sourpuss share a dream about the planets and stars, but for Sourpuss, it turns into a nightmare.

Apparently, there was a whole series of Gandy Goose/Sourpuss dream sharing cartoons; I know I’ve encountered a couple of them before. And I must admit that it is an interesting concept, and I rather like the first half of this cartoon, which mostly takes place in the vastness of the universe in outer space; it’s more like a space documentary than a cartoon. Unfortunately, the second half of the cartoon takes place on Earth, and Sourpuss’s dream turns into a nightmare when he releases a canary from his cage only to be accused of eating the canary. The rest of the cartoon consists of various characters beating the crap out of Sourpuss, and it’s just not funny to see him terrorized for having been accused of a crime he did not commit, and the cartoon becomes distinctly unpleasant. Considering how I liked the first half, this is a real disappointment.
You know, I’ve been ragging on Terrytoons quite a bit recently, and I was hoping this would turn out to be one that I liked so I wouldn’t do it again. Sadly, that is not the case.